Sunday, 27 April 2014

Squeezing it all in!

Sewing time is scarce lately so when I spot an opportunity I need to make the most of it.

Friday afternoon was a very interrupted kind of space.  It's still been the Easter holidays here (but school is back tomorrow - hooray!) and mum's taxi/fast food joint was well in action all afternoon and evening, but there were bite sized chunks when my presence/food/money/driving licence were not required so I set to sorting out some bits and pieces.  Nothing too taxing, not requiring too much concentration and easily left at the call of "Mu-um".

So, I started by making up some 2.5" square cornerstones for my crazy scrappy quilt. Quick and easy, just what the doctor ordered!

That job done, I decided to make a start on prepping for my class with Judith which starts next week.  I've decided to use my bundle of grey and aqua fabrics for the Retro Butterflies quilt (though have since opted to leave out the darkest two greys from this project as I think they'd draw attention to themselves a little).  So this bundle became three little piles like so - 

 I hadn't really intended to cut so much in advance but well, at least they're done!

Next up, as my brain was really starting to fog, I thought I'd tackle my 1" strip scraps.  I've shown you before how I've been trying to cut smallish leftovers into usable squares and strips to keep my scrap basket from overflowing and one day to have a ready made stack of scrappiness to make something fun from.

Well, I haven't really known what I should do with scraps that are less than 1.5" width.  I'm really not sure I see a project in my future that uses 2,000 1" squares!!  However, the frugal lass within hasn't quite let me throw these smaller pieces away altogether.  So for a while I have dutifully trimmed any skinny strips down to 1" (and chopped up a few old pillowcases too) and left them aside hoping that a plan would eventually come to me.  One bin full of scraps later and I have my plan - a crocheted rag rug for no other reason than "just because".

So, much of Friday afternoon and evening was spent in intermittent bouts of stitching strips and strips and strips together.  Poor IG friends probably felt they were living this dull experience with me - the joys of sharing, heh?

But eventually, the strips were wrangled into seven pretty strip rolls all ready for the day I can get hooky with them, maybe later in the summer/autumn if my current FAL plans go well.  And, as a bonus I get my bin back!!

After a good night's sleep I had the joys of the sewing room all to myself for most of Saturday and I didn't plan to waste it.

The cornerstones were laid out with the sashing in the somewhat cramped floor space.  There was an IG discussion a few weeks ago about skinny versus broader sashing and, while skinny was the most popular, I just didn't feel it was right for this one in the end and I went with the wider sashing but added the little colourful cornerstones to break it up a little.

Got to say I love the navy against these bright crazy scrappy blocks and valiantly persevered with a hoolie of a wind to try to get a pic I could show you.  This was the best of a rather wind-swept bunch!
I pieced a backing too, but chickened out of pinning it on the line in favour of warming up inside - that wind was biting cold!!

I nabbed some time before church this morning and read J's pre-class instruction about bringing some scraps with us to practice piecing curves.  So that was my task for this morning - some 5" squares for practicing curves.

Except, well ... I got a little distracted, played a little too much and had a wee practice and very nearly had to go to church in my PJs!!!  It was so hard to have to leave it so close to being pieced into a block.

Needless to say, chicken in the oven for dinner, quick stitch and press of seams and a speedy border later and I am in love!!!!!  Should point out that while I worked out the piecing for myself, I was inspired by Cut to Pieces Angela's layout of the Drunkard's Path block here.

It isn't perfect because I need to learn about trimming the block better, but I am pretty pleased with myself for a first proper go.  Leanne's video tutorial is a wonderful thing!!

And, if the bits that don't quite meet up in the middle bother me I can always add a button, right?

Just to show you a wee trimming shortfall.

This one was a better finish.  Think I need to cut a scant quarter inch like my stitching seam allowance, but at least now I know what to try next time, right?

Definitely a productive time this weekend and I even managed to clear my ironing basket and chores too, all ready for a new week of routine (and no doubt new loads of laundry)!

Hope your weekend was fun whatever you were up to!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hunter's Star Cushion

Two weeks without blogging and I feel like I've dropped into an abyss.  Almost as long without sewing and I was practically ready for medication!  Thank goodness for a sneaky afternoon at the machine on Monday.

The Hunter's Star pattern is one I have wanted to make since before I'd ever heard of blogging, so with new cushions required to brighten up my lounge, I decided a while back that I would finally tackle this pattern.  It can be pieced from templates but since I'm not very good at that I worked with paper piecing patterns I came across in my copy of Sylvia's Bridal Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts.

Those babies took a loooong time to piece.  Look how many seams there are in this 18" cushion front ...

I have to admit the seam intersections also affected the quilting making my needle hop around over the lumpier bumpier sections, which is why there's no close up pic of the loosely named 'in the ditch' quilting!

However, look at my happy little cushion!

Inordinate amount of time piecing just a cushion front, but so lovely to finally have a Hunter's star piece of my own, and this is a finish from my FAL Qtr 2 list as well!

Hope you all have enjoyed the Easter break!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

HipBees - April 2014

Here comes summer!  Well, in my bee blocks at least.

Jill's challenge to the hipBees this month was to create two Beach Hut themed blocks for her summer quilt.  Pieced, appliqued, embroidered, whatever, Jill encouraged us to get creative with her sorbet shaded fabrics.

This kind of bee block is a little tougher than just being directed at a particular block, but in many ways these are the ones I prefer.  Yes, they take longer to plan but they challenge us to think outside of the box (or blocks) and be a little more "artistic" (I use the term lightly in my own case) with our efforts.

So, thanks Jill for allowing us free reign with techniques and embellishments for a fun theme.  I really hope you like these blocks.

First of all to get me in the summery mood, I paper pieced a little row of pretty beach huts, once again adapting the pattern I had from Judith's cushion class.

Then, to take the deserted look off the beach I embroidered (more encouragement from my IG cheerleaders) Flossy the mermaid, the little coral crab and some seashells.  Hope it's not too much whimsy in one place.  All credit for the embroidery designs belongs to Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching book.

My second block was an attempt at raw edge applique and sketching.  Thanks to Annabella's Gees Bend inspired improv blocks a couple of months ago in Modern Stitching Bee, I even made use of the soft curving skills I learned to create a sweeping shoreline and sand line on the background of this block.  Was feeling quite chuffed with myself for getting this to happen successfully.

This one is a posh beach hut with a big picture window and a plot of its own.  The owner of this hut even has a washing line to dry her itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini on!  And, her wee dog enjoys to play next to the waves.

As an aside, can you believe the cheek of one IGer (not naming anyone) who, when I posted this pic of the bikini applique pieces (for scale),

had the cheek to say "Don't think that it will fit!!!"  Whatever did she mean?!

Anyway, as you can tell I had great fun with these blocks and hope Jill will have a spectacular, quirky beach hut quilt when all of our blocks arrive with her!  Thanks for the challenge Jill!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

FAL 2014 - Qtr 2 Goals List

Finish Along 2014

Time to stake my claim on WIPs or UFOs that I'm aiming to tackle during Quarter 2.  So, here goes:

1 - Crazy Scrappy block quilt
16 of these cheery blocks and some navy fabric for sashing are tucked up in a box on the sewing room shelf. I think it's time to make something of them.

2 - Mystery Medallion Quilt
Not quite such a Mystery now that the quilt top is finished, my medallion quilt is currently hanging on the back of the sewing room door.  If I can source one of those dual positioning quilting guide arms I would like perhaps to spiral quilt this one.  I would love to finish it this quarter. 

3 - Ruby Churn Dash bed quilt
I think I have made about 33 of the 49 churn dashes that I need for this bed quilt, and I love them!  The remaining blocks are all cut and it would be good if I could finish this during the quarter so it can be in use when it becomes warm enough to sideline the duvet (she says optimistically).

4 - Kaffe Fassett Sparkling Gemstones Quilt
Left aside with a Pam Lintott Sparkling Gemstones quilt pattern in mind, this sadly neglected fabric deserves a little attention.  I think I could be pushing things hoping for a finish on this one in quarter 2, but sure you never know ....

5 - Crocheted Ripple Throw
Been quite a long time since I started this crocheted throw back when I was in need of amusement during the many long hours a week I spent as a poolside mum.  Things changed and I haven't been poolside this year so the bag of crochet has been a little neglected.  It needs to be finished and since I only have that small amount of yarn remaining, I am hoping that Qtr 2 will see it rippled to a pretty finish. It won't be huge, probably just a lap sized throw.

6 - Hunter's Star Cushion
I really need to switch out some older cushion covers from the lounge and I decided a while back to use the Hunter's star pattern for one of the replacements.  The fabrics are pulled and I've already cut some of the paper templates, so maybe one weekend I can turn on some tunes and make this a Qtr 2 success.

Well, 4 quilts, a throw and a cushion feels like a tall enough order to be getting on with.  If I had time I'd love to make up a few more lounge cushions too, but since I haven't started or got a plan for them they're not for this quarter's list.  Maybe I'll get a chance to sneak them in among the FAL items or at least start them so they can be quarter 3 projects ;-)

Linking up with Katy at The Littlest Thistle.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Modern Stitching Bee - April 2014

It's Rebecca's turn as Queen Bee this month and she asked us for Japanese x and + blocks in saturated colours.

These blocks look brilliant in a full quilt but I have to admit that I struggled more with these block than I have ever struggled with a block before.

This is the evidence of several blocks made and ripped apart in my attempts to line up the top and bottom arms of the plus part of the block.  Much frustration (and fabric) later I did have respectable blocks but as yesterday's IG posts testify it was not a painless experience.  Thank you to the IG folks for bolstering my confidence and soothing my furrowed brow!

I've also been working on my hipBees blocks this weekend (with more success) but have a wee spot of embroidery to finish on one of them before I reveal them.  Soon I hope ...

Hope you had a successful stitchy weekend!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Not quite dotty

Last week I wanted to make a gift for a lovely friend's birthday.  She is a very creative lady with an eye for soft delicate palettes, repurposing and renovating and pretty home accessorising.  So what to make?  Well, having been inspired by IG appearance of the dotty pouches made by Di for her Sew South friends, I thought that May Chappell's lovely Dotty Pouch tutorial could be adapted quite easily more to my friend's brand of soft vintage vibe.

So, leaving aside the dots and the piping of the original tutorial I opted for soft linen, lilacs and lace to suit my vintage loving friend.

Once the piecing was complete the pouch felt a little bare on the linen side so I added a teeny spot of lilac and lavender embroidery.  I'll admit that the positioning of the embroidery was made with a bit of a wing and a prayer.  It's hard sometimes to know where your embellishment will end up once all the seams and gussets are taken into account and, while I think mine didn't ended up perfectly placed, it's not too bad for a calculated guess.

This not-quite-dotty dotty pouch finished much bigger than I had expected at approx 7" x 10" and would hold a substantial make-up collection or even a reasonable supply of toiletries for a weekend away.  So, I hope my friend will be able to make good use of her vintage-look pouch and enjoy it with the good wishes that accompanied it for her special day!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

FAL Quarter 1 2014: Round Up

Finish Along 2014

So, it seems that I responded well to the motivation of listing my hoped for finishes on my Quarter 1 FAL goals list -

1 & 2 - Siblings Together Churn Dash Quilts
I have a pile of 57 churn dash blocks donated via my Siblings Together Block Drive and these need to become two finished quilts ready to forward on to Siblings Together.  Yep, two fun quilts were pieced and have been sent on to the Siblings Together Charity ready for handing out at this summer's camps.  

This pile of blocks became ....
one lovely quilt ...

and a second lovely quilt.

3 - hipBees Black and White Quilt
The hipBees have sent me a bunch of fun blocks.  Again these need to be retrieved from a shelf and made up into a quilt.  This was my last finish of the quarter and with the agreement of my hipBee buddies it is now making its way to Mexico City as part of the Soy Amado quilt drive.

My starting blocks ...

and some from my bee buddies became a funky top to donate to Soy Amado quilts.

4 - Scrumptious Brick Layer Cake Quilt
This one already is a top so I need to make a backing and get on with quilting and binding it to finish.  All finished and lovin' it!

This pretty top...

... got a finishing treatment.

5 - Embroidery Sampler
This little piece of embroidery stitched recently needs to be made up into something useful - a tote or a pouch or a wallhanging?  Made this one into a pouch for my embroidery.

From this ...

... to something useful!

6 - Gift stitching
I cannot reveal what these fabrics are to become just yet as they're for a secret gift, but I have pulled two patterns and three fabrics (one is hidden under that top one) and hope to transform them into pretties this quarter.  Made, sent and happily received by my gorgeous friend.

From a not very interesting pile ...
... to pretty gifts!

So, everything finished (6 in total) and I'm a happy camper.  FAL ticks also equal a number of UFOs completed and that can only be a good thing!

I hope you had a good FAL quarter too.  Thanks Katy for keeping us at it!  Need to have a think about my Quarter 2 goals and see if I can keep up the focus.

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